Start Small.

Have you been to one of those Family Buffet Restaurants? I’m a sucker for those. I walk up and down the stalls of heat lamps shining down on large containers of mashed potatoes, meat loaf, chicken legs, pasta, sausage, noodles and gravy. I mean, I load up. All you can eat, baby! A couple things may have fallen from my plate by the time I get back to the table.

I love this stuff. The problem is, I can’t eat it all. That’s right, just like mom said, my eyes were too big for my stomach. I hate it when that happens. I didn’t even leave room for dessert!

I think we “go big” on a lot of things, only to find out later that we just can’t keep up the enthusiasm we started with. For ex-ample: New Year’s Resolutions, a new diet, plans to exercise, practicing our hobby (music etc.).

We get discouraged at our failure and feel foolish for even mak-ing those plans. Don’t do that.

This brings us to Lent and the Penance we are encouraged to take on this season. Many of us begin with early expectations of virtue and sacrifice far beyond our ability to stay with. We stop a particular activity we have come to love and look forward to each day. (No sweets, dessert, alcohol, soap operas, etc.) If you are among those whose will power is strong enough that you are able to keep such penances, give thanks to God for such a grace. Keep your penance a secret though.

If on the other hand you are like me (with will power the strength of a noodle), START SMALL. Set something do-able for a penance, something that will help someone else, some-thing that will make you a kinder person, something that will make this a better world.
How about:

  • Speak less. Listen more.
  • 3 minutes of prayer in the morning. “Lord please help me today to . . .”
  • Reading a book about the Catholic Faith.
  • Give some money to a person in need or some worthy so-cial cause.
  • Spend more time at home with . . .
  • “Develop” a sprained ankle and ask your Catholic neigh-bor to bring you to church. Ask them to sit with you in church because you’re lonely and afraid!
  • Doing too much of something? Do it less. (Too little, do more.)
  • Ask a family member and the Lord what they think would be good for you to do for Lent.
  • Remember, start small. God will inspire you with thoughts that will surprise you.

So, here we go. Lent/Easter 2014. Lord, be with us.
God bless your week.
Fr. Tim

“Don’t Worry. I’ve Got This.” God.

My father sold life insurance for over forty years. He’d say things to me like, ”Tim, you can never have too much life insurance.” Or, “Insurance is a great way of saving.” And, “Salespersons have a noble profession, they make the economy run.”

Dad did well. He sent three children through college and he and mom traveled a bit in retirement. He did it all in a business that places a high value on being prepared for the future. Insurance is an industry that tries to take the uncertainty out of life . . . where will I live? How will I take care of myself? What if I get sick? Will I have enough to . . . ??? One insurance company’s slogan says it pretty clearly, “to take the IF out of life”.

Hearing the gospel this Sunday, one might think Jesus would have made a lousy insurance salesman. “Therefore, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or what you will wear . . . look at the birds in the sky, they gather nothing into barns yet, God feeds them.” Or, “learn from the lilies of the field, they neither work nor worry, yet not even King Solomon was dressed as fine as they.” Don’t worry. Be happy. Right?

The “don’t worry” part doesn’t mean we don’t work hard to earn our food and lodging. The apostles were fisher-men, St. Paul was a tent maker, Jesus worked as a carpenter. The Parable of the Talents (three servants, given different sums of money) shows us that God expects a return on His investment. “Why didn’t you at least put my money in the bank to gain interest?” There’s a common sense to living in this world which we must heed.
So what’s the point of the gospel this Sunday? Do your best to secure what you need in this life. This is our duty as members of family and community. BUT . . . don’t let getting these things become the most important thing you do. “Seek first the Kingdom of God and (guess what?) all that you need will be given to you.” Mt. 6:25ff

How do you seek God’s Kingdom? Seek out goodness rather than evil, generosity rather than selfishness, forgiveness rather than resentment, kindliness over spite, courage over cowardice, patience rather than anger. In other words, live as Christ has shown us.

Dear friends it doesn’t mean we’ll all get what we want in our lives, but it does mean we will get what we really need . . . what we really need to live our best lives, our God purposed lives.

Now, I can’t convince you of this promise of Christ. I can only try to witness to it with my own life. Each of us must ask Him to help with our needs and then trust that what happens to you is God’s loving will. “Oh Lord, give me the grace to trust in your plan and to be resolved to do my part for your Kingdom. Then do with me as you will.”

Do something kind for someone this week.

Fr. Tim

Love Your Enemies . . . What?!!

No where, ever, will you find this command in the rules for any nation, any organization, any religion . . . but for Christianity. These words were spoken by Our Lord Himself, not to living saints who hung on His every word, but to his disciples, rough fishermen, common people whose lives were already hard enough. He speaks to you and me.

Think for a moment . . . do you have any enemies? I mean real enemies, someone who wants bad things to happen to you – someone who tries to hurt you?

If you lived in Israel or Palestine, you could answer “yes”. For the Jew it would be “the Palestinians”, for the Palestinian, it would be “the Jews”. For the Serbians, it’s the Croats (and vice-versa). And on it goes; Huttus vs. Tutsis, Christians vs. Moslems, and here in America, we could say at times, even Democrats and Republicans.

How about you? Do you have any enemies? I’m hard pressed to answer “yes” to that. I have people who don’t like me or don’t trust me (and me toward them); perhaps they are a rival, but I can’t say I know anyone who is my enemy.

Does this clear us from the Lord’s command? I don’t think so. In the same way Jesus expanded the other commandments of the Torah – – – from shall not kill to shall not grow angry, from shall not commit adultery to shall not even look lustfully – – – so now my “enemy” becomes someone who doesn’t necessarily “hate” me, but rather someone who “stands in my way”.

My enemy becomes someone who thinks differently than I. It is someone who makes me afraid, someone who, yes, doesn’t like me, or someone who hurt me, and by golly, I’m not going to forget that.

And what do we do with this new “expanded” version of enemy? We avoid that person. We gather people around us who feel the same way about that person.

You can see how this natural response to an opposing force begins to divide the human family. Fear, retaliation, mistrust become the atmosphere between families, co-workers, political parties, cultures, religions, and nations.

How can this situation, given human nature, ever change? Or, do we even want it to change? (Isn’t it easier to keep my enemies my enemy?!)

No. Jesus, if we choose to listen to him, says, “love your enemy.”

But HOW? (Please know I’m trying to do these myself, and many of you are much better at this than I am).

Thoughts to help me love my enemy:

  • To love doesn’t mean to feel “sweet” toward my
    enemy. Bottom line, it means to want what is good for them, “that they be well”.
  • Who knows what hurtful events have marked their lives. Perhaps their response to me is really just them trying not to be hurt again.
  • Inside every human being is someone who (because we are made in God’s image) wants to love and be loved – every one of us. So, my “enemy” is like me!
  • How would I wish to be treated by this person? Do that for them.
  • In the end, God is bigger than my feelings and fears. If He commands it, then He will help me do it.
  • It’s going to hurt. It’s part of the cross we carry for the love of Christ.
  • No one really wants to have or be . . . an enemy.
  • In the end, my enemy is my brother, my sister.

God help us all with these things. Jesus wants us to love like Him and His Father everyone.

A blessed week to you

Fr. Tim

Holy Trinity. Goings On.

I’m sitting here in my office this Monday morning. Out-side my window is a large snow drift that partially obscures a view of a huge snow pile another twenty feet away. Get the picture? Snow EVERYWHERE. It’s winter. As the psalm says, “snow and chill . . . bless the Lord.”
Yet even with the deep freeze we’ve had these weeks things are stirring quietly about us that will bring new life in a short while (6 more weeks actually; according to Ground Hog Phil). What sorts of things?

Well first off, the sunlight is returning (days are longer since Dec.22), and soon we’ll begin to feel the difference in longer and warmer days. Burrowed animals are in gestation, and we’ll see their pups and fawns this spring. The last of the leaves are being stripped off the trees readying the branches for a new start.

That’s in nature. What about Holy Trinity? Any new life stirring here?

Yes, some quite wonderful things actually. Quietly over the past 5 months, 7 adults (six children as well) have been preparing to enter the Catholic Church through Baptism, Eucharist and Confirmation at the Easter Vigil. We pray for them each week in this journey.

Plans are underway to renew the church roof around the south towers. This is the first of two phases that will eventually renew our 100 year old roof. (Phase 1 will cost $100,000). Also, we are looking at paving and lighting the north parking lot across from Murphy Hall. This gravel parking lot is suffering erosion and terminal darkness at night. ($80,000?).

Our crack facilities committee is looking at both these issues and I’ll be reporting to you later this winter how the heck we’re going to pay for all this.

Youth Ministry is growing quietly at HT. In January Rob and Megan Balas led our Senior High Youth Retreat at Camp Stella Maris, and weekly they meet in the Youth Room to talk, pray, and eat! PARENTS AND GRAND PARENTS . . . DO YOU ENCOURAGE YOUR TEEN TO JOIN THE SUNDAY YOUTH CONVERSATION? HOLY TRINITY CAN PLAN, BUT YOU HAVE TO ENCOURAGE.

Meanwhile, plans for Jr. High (grds. 6, 7, 8) youth activities are being discussed. We need parents to help us here. What do you want to see here at Holy Trinity for your young pre-teen? Can you help make it happen? Call me!

One last note: we are still short staffed. We’ve not re-placed the 2 full time staff members we lost last summer, (Youth Minister and Pastoral Associate) and are stretching to fill in some critical areas of catechetical instruction (thank you Fr. John and Judy Cass!).

We will be looking for a new staff person this spring to help with adult faith formation and other responsibilities.

Soooo . . . dear friends, I hope you’re spreading the light wherever you are. Lent is not far away. We’ll talk about that when the time comes. Meanwhile, we go straight ahead.

Be kind.

Fr. Tim

Marriage: Is he; is she . . . the One?

Two weeks ago our crack team of married couples here at Holy Trinity met with 18 couples planning weddings over the next ten months. It’s called Pre-Cana (Cana, the town where Jesus turned water into wine at the wedding reception). It was a fun day, a learning day for all of us.

Each year it’s a privilege for me to get to know these young couples on a personal basis. This time the team couples were struck by the attention and focus these young people brought to the sessions.
The talks were meant to cover the spectrum of early mar-riage experience: Communication, First Years of marriage (The Honeymoon is Over!), God and you: an unfinished story, Intimacy and Sexuality, and When Problems Arise.

The discussions were warm and honest and filled with laughter. I hope they experienced not only helpful infor-mation about “best marriage practices”, but at the same time experienced a community of faith (HT) that wants them to succeed in their married life and be a support to them in the years ahead.

That being said, what advice did we hear that indicates you’ve found Mr. or Ms. Right? Here’s a list.

See what you think.

  1. My fiancé believes in God. Their belief makes a dif-ference in how they live. They are happy to go to Mass with me.
  2. My fiancé believes in heaven and wants to go
  3. My honey bun loves me more than all his/her golf- ing/football/shopping friends combined (I mean, there’s no contest here . . . I’m #1).
  4. I really like my fiancé’s family.
  5. My fiancé can say “I’m sorry” and really mean it.
  6. Mr./Ms. Right keeps little promises; like calling you when they said they would.
  7. My fiancé does not watch pornography. (Pornography is poison to a marriage.)
  8. My fiancé likes to talk to me. We enjoy conversation.
  9. Touching him/her brings comfort and peace and joy.
  10. My fiancé loves the thought of having children.
  11. My fiancé has never made me afraid.

Now, no one is perfect. So your fiancé may not score 100 on this little unofficial list (you probably didn’t either!). However, you get the point of all this, right? The point is there are signs that someone is ready to step up and be the faithful loving partner for life that you deserve. How many of these signs does your sweetheart show you?

So, young people, we pray for you and for the decisions you will make about your life’s partner. You too should be praying . . . “Lord, show me your will for me. If I am to marry (and Lord, I DO want to marry), show me the one your providence puts before me. Speak to me, Lord.”
Don’t be afraid. Your heart, guided by prayer, will show you.

God bless us all

Fr. Tim

Worship II

Let’s take another look at what worship and adoration is about. It’s important to understand what we’re doing and why.

In short, God is our all, our everything. But how do we love and serve a God we can not see or touch? God has to help us. He has to give us something to hold onto as belonging to Him or at least pointing to Him. And He has.

“What can be known about God is plain to see, for God Himself made it plain. Ever since God created the world, his invisible qualities, both his eternal power and his divine nature, have been clearly seen; they are perceived in the things that God has made.” Romans 1:20

So, worship begins by acknowledging that all we see, all that is, comes from God. This is called “Natural Religion,” and it is as old as the human race. So, humans have made offerings to the “gods” of the mountains, the sun, the moon, the fields, the oceans . . .

But, God wished to elevate his beloved creature, man and woman, to a new level of knowledge and love of God. He wanted us to be his friends, not his pets). So, God did the unimaginable. He became a human being. Jesus, “the image of the invisible God”. (Col. 1:15.)

1 John 1:2 tells us, “the Word of Life was made visible; we have seen it and testify to it, and proclaim to you what was with the Father was made visible to us.” And so our worship of God becomes personal now. It focuses on the person of God who is Jesus, God become human flesh.

Yes, we worship God when we worship Christ because . . . “through him (Jesus), God created everything in heaven and earth, all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things and in him all things hold together.” (Col. 1:17).

Jesus sort of summarized all this when in answer to the Apostle Philip’s request to show him “the Father,” Jesus said, “Philip, when you see me, you see the Father.” (Jn. 14:8)

* * * * * *

But HOW do we worship God. What do we do? In ancient times we would collect the finest fruit of the harvest and burn it, turning it to smoke which rises to God. Or, we would slay a bull or ox or goat and place it on the altar of sacrifice. Basically, we would give God the best of what we have.

You see Jesus is God’s gift to us and our gift back to God. His life was lived in total dedication to the will of the Father. Jesus was the Lamb that was slain. His death on the cross, freely accepted as the way his Father was to reconcile the human race to his burning love, forever becomes our offering of worship to God the Father.

Where does this happen? The Mass. God gives us his Son. We give him back to the Father…with ourselves attached! Jesus takes us to the Father as part of his body. Jesus wants this to happen until he comes in Glory. “Do this, in memory of me.”


Fr. Tim

“We Praise You, We Adore You, We Glorify You.”

Just what does it mean to “worship”? To “adore”, to “glorify”?

We immediately think we know. “It’s what we do in church. We offer our prayers to God. We are “down here” and God is “up there” so we “send up” our prayers, songs and praises hoping that He hears us and somehow this makes Him happy.

That’s part of what worship is all about; but unless we go deeper, we miss the amazing gift worship becomes for us. You see, we were made to worship and adore. It is our highest activity as a creature. It’s our equivalent to a bird’s ability to fly. Our purpose as human beings is to praise and worship God.

There can be some disconnect at this point. We can too soon associate this worship with the feeling that God somehow needs our praise to feel better about Himself, or to love us more, because of our sweet words to Him. Think of a big balloon that needs our breath to stay inflat-ed. That’s NOT what’s happening when we worship.
Why is our ability to worship and adore so wonderful? Because it touches and activates our deepest potential as His creature.

Our reverent submission to the infinite knowledge of God opens the mystery of the created world. The countless galaxies, the sub atomic universe, the human gnome, the planet earth in the vacuum of space . . reveal God’s effort-less brilliance and our privilege to share in a small part of that knowledge.

Our surrender to God’s moral law awakens within us our deepest beauty as participants in a life of love that is God’s very nature. We become lovers as God Himself loves and thereby we are united to the Divine.

Worship and adoration open us to the intentional beauty God has placed all around us: the wonder of nature, the vision of beauty that is the human being, the overwhelm-ing power of a child’s smile, the glimpse of eternity that music can bring all have ultimate meaning because of God who is the source of all that is.

I think it was St. Ireneus who said the “The Glory of God is Man fully alive.” In other words, when humans are living in a way that God has made us for (loving, surren-dering to God’s way). We are giving Glory to God. This too is worship.

But the Ireneus saying has a second part, “and Man is ful-ly alive when he sees God.” This tells us of our final goal as human beings . . . to look on the face of God, to be filled with the Joy that is in the heart of Christ, and to see that joy in the faces of all who have loved in the course of their lives on earth.

In the end, nothing satisfies the human heart but the Love of God. Till then we are restless until we rest in that un-speakable beauty.

Let’s go straight ahead.

Fr. Tim

Star Light, Star Bright . . .

I sat down to write thank you notes to everyone who helped with this year’s Star Program. I soon realized it would take me until May to write over 150 letters to each person that helped; so Father Tim was kind enough to let me have his space on the front of the bulletin to give a huge thank you.

To begin to say thank you: let me list the jobs that went into this massive effort beginning with . . . Coordinators from HOPE House, the city portion, and each of the five inner city parishes, the people who gave, collected, and sorted over 5,000 grocery items from the wish list, along with any volunteers who helped move, shop, box, and delivered gifts and food. This could not have happened without any of you. Whether you gave one hour of your time or 500, I appreciated it.

Star Program is more than collecting food or presents. The Star Program is special because it touched people in ways we can’t even imagine. It brought old friends to-gether at the hectic holiday time. New friendships were made with people who have been long time parishioners at our parish, who were able to meet through helping those less fortunate. The tears and hugs of gratitude from recipient families flowed. They were sure there had been a mistake because they replied, “All of these gifts can’t be for us.”

Let me tell you how touched I was over the course of the program, as I realized that this program does not happen because of one person alone. The STAR Program hap-pens because your son gave $.75 for the Penny Sunday Collection. It happens when you bought 1 extra Christ-mas gift and wrapped it with love for a complete stranger. It’s a grandma dropping off two jars of spaghetti sauce at Wednesday morning mass, or a son taking his truck and filling it with boxes to deliver to the inner city parishes.

If you recall, the Religious Education Sunday Program children were asked to take a bag with a grocery list. They were to bring back the bag at the 10:30 am. Mass a couple of weeks later. It was really something to see these children bringing their bags forward on that day. A hush fell over the congregation as they dragged and car-ried their bags into Church. The glow and satisfaction on the children and the grownup’s faces was priceless.

It was wonderful watching the next generation learn the spirit of giving that touched me deeply. It was truly my “God Moment”, you know, the moment you realize some-thing is bigger than you or I, and you KNOW that God is there with you – that even now three months later, my heart swells with pride.
So thank you to everyone who made this such an amazing experience for me.

God Bless,

Kasey Baker
Bookkeeper and Star Coordinator

God: Co-weaver of our Life

A talent that comes so naturally to a child but one that sometimes fades as we get older is the ability to be sur-prised or delighted. Those of us who think they have seen it all, can be slow to hear new things or consider different ways of doing things. It’s called being “stodgy” or old fashioned or “set in your ways”.

I’m dangerously close to that. But something happened last weekend while I was in Syracuse that really surprised and delighted all of us. A young man (now a deacon in Syracuse, soon to be ordained a priest) gave a talk on “discernment”. How do you figure out what path in life God wants you to take?
He used this image. See what you think.

Picture you’re weaving a cloth with a shuttle and yarn attached to it. Only this cloth is suspended over your head. The garment you’re weaving is, of course, “your life”.

You view your cloth from the bottom and see several openings which will receive your shuttle. So, seeing the pattern you’ve already begun, you choose an opening that seems to best add to your cloth. You push the shuttle through and wait for its return.

Meanwhile, God is there above to receive your choice. He takes His time in returning the shuttle. He’s partnering with you as co-weaver! Finally, He drops the shuttle back down to you, but not exactly where you thought He would. It’s “over there”.

“Oh,” we think. “That changes things. Now what? Where do I send my shuttle back to Him?”
And up and down the shuttle of life goes. Each time we make the best judgment we can about life’s choices . . . Is this the person I should marry? Do I work or stay home with the children? Do I apply for the new opening at work? Where do we send the children to school? What should I say about recent developments in the family? How do I handle this new problem? Etc.

Get the picture? It’s really a nice meditation on the part-nership God has with us in guiding us through our lives.
Two points seem critical to me in this process.

1. When we ponder where to send up our choices, (the shuttle) there needs to be some sort of prayer. “Oh Lord, please guide me, enlighten me. Show me where to send this choice in life. I give it to you. Help me.” Then act with the confidence that God will indeed help your choic-es. He loves you!

2. When God drops the shuttle back down to you, no mat-ter how unexpected its placement— trust that it is God’s answer to your prayer. The events of our life that follow our prayerful action is what we call God’s Providence (His loving grace given to us, His children) Trust that He has heard you and has answered your prayers.

Case in point: We prayed for months that God would guide the selection of our next bishop. Bishop Salvatore Matano is God’s answer to us! Welcome bishop. Now let’s all get to work.
God is waiting for your next prayer.

Bless you.

Fr. Tim

PS. Your garment is going to be breathtaking!

The Fullness of Time

This little article is about time and how it seems to change the older I get. There was a time (as a child) when time was a wall that stood between me and something I wanted very badly. “It’s going to take time”, my parents warned me as we drove off for Niagara Falls for our first family vacation. “So don’t go asking, are we there yet.”

“Is it TIME?”, my sisters and I would scream, begging that Christmas morning could finally begin. The last day of school, the start of baseball season, your drivers test, were all separated from you by this wall of time that could only be endured, and at great cost.

It’s not like that any more. Things are on me before I know it. There doesn’t seem to be enough time now. There are some days when every moment is scheduled for some purpose — a meeting, an appointment, an event, phone calls etc. You finish your day and sit for a minute. You remember your first cup of coffee that morning and how good it tasted and suddenly….it’s nine o’clock at night!! Where did all the time go?

I had an interesting drive home to Ohio this summer. (I’ve been making that trip since 1971. That is 41 years.) There is a favorite part of the drive for me just south of Fredonia on the NYS Thruway. It’s a valley with a stream running under both lanes of the highway. The trees are arranged just so, the hills are mowed giving a nice view of the stream. It’s the kind of place that’s just right for a picnic.

“Is this supposed to say something about God, Fr. Tim?” Yes. It is very simple. When God became a human being in Jesus, He entered into time. John calls it the “fullness of time”. Something was now different from every other time on earth.

What was it? Jesus tells us in his first recorded words of his public life, “the Kingdom of God is at hand.” It is here. Now. In this moment and every moment to follow, God is with us. Emmanuel.

You and I are in that time. The Kingdom is here. Let us walk in its light. Let us use the gift of time to spread the good news….The Eternal God has entered time to show us the way to live. And in living that way we might enter into that life that has no time, and we are forever young in Christ.

A Blessed Christmas Season to you.

Fr. Tim

Are you still Fa la la la la-ing?

I hope so.